Are You Cool or a Tool When You Rev Your Engine?

Does revving the engine in neutral in an automatic car make it go faster from the starting line?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Answer by Steve Johnson

Does revving your engine make it go faster from the starting line?

In neutral? No. But I can easily see why one might think so, especially if — as I suspect — one has been watching live or televised drag racing. They rev it up, the green shines, and they fly down the track. So the high idle must be making them faster, and they must be in neutral since the car isn’t moving, right? Well, no. If you rev your engine in neutral, then drop the gear lever into D while the engine is revved high, you aren’t going to go fast–you’re going to violently and catastrophically break important stuff, and at best limp away from the line and coast to a stop, beaten and embarrassed.

Most modern drag-race cars now use an automatic transmission instead of a manual simply because the advent of computer transmission control allows the racer to shift and tune his transmission electrically precisely the way he wants it to shift. Some race cars shift the transmission by air pressure read through an air tube sensor–some drag cars are so fast that the air can’t get out of the way fast enough and impinges on the sensor connected to the car’s computer with a predictable tipping point to signal the computer to shift. A modern race automatic will help a driver optimize his shift points and launch dynamics, which translate to better —> Read More